Rant with Randi: Traveling stinks — and that’s putting it mildly
If you want to feel “like a second-class citizen,” I strongly recommend traveling on an airplane somewhere, anywhere. Apparently, if your job doesn’t require you to be on an airplane 90 percent of the time, and you aren’t a gold or premium member of anything, you are a loser. Even if you spend so much money on your credit card, that it affords you free miles to fly, you are considered to be even lower on the loser chain. I made a pact with myself, after this last trip, that I won’t fly “airline x” ever again. And if I do, I want to be checked into a mental hospital.
Let’s start with the airport security line. Those who were smart and went to the border to get approved for the TSA-PRE, streamline right to the front of the line without any questions, disrobing or holdups whatsoever. Those of us who aren’t TSA-PRE get stuck in the line with the “idiot traveler” who, after he is clearly told to “Empty everything from your pockets,” still keeps change and other items in his pocket and doesn’t understand why that’s a problem. Thus holding up the line for the rest of the cattle who actually got the memo that “empty your pockets” means to empty your pockets. And he doesn’t learn the first time; it takes at least two to three times before this guy dials in.
Next, as you are waiting anxiously to board, there are two clearly marked lines. Priority Passengers stand to the left, and the cattle go to the right. There could be a line wrapping around the gate area for the “cattle,” and then a random “Priority” traveler casually walks up to priority and sashays right in. If you haven’t gotten the memo by now, you should know that if you aren’t a priority member, your trip is going to suck.
Then you board, and walk by everyone in first class sipping their buttery chardonnay, and you are shuffled back to Loserville with the curtain clearly marking the differentiation between the two. And you pray for just a fleeting moment that you are seated directly behind first class, because those passengers get a bit more leg room, but that quickly vanishes as you head to the back of the plane.
As it turns out, when you fly using the points you’ve earned by spending so much money on your credit card, you get the last row on the plane. You know which one I’m talking about; it’s the one located right by the restrooms. And to add insult to injury, your seats don’t go back, because the bathroom is right behind you. You are blessed with all the people standing by your seats, staring at whatever you are doing, while waiting to use the restroom.
Let’s not forget you are guaranteed to miss any close connection because it’s going to take you 30 minutes to get off the plane. This is when you shut your eyes and start counting backwards.
Honestly I didn’t think it could get any worse, until I went to pick up my rental car. When we stepped onto the bus, I was asked whether I was a gold member, and when I said no, I was told to go to the right and take my seat. No joke, a rental car shuttle actually differentiates between the elite travelers and the losers. Both ways on this trip, my flights were delayed, and the first leg, I didn’t get my luggage. The second leg, my entire family missed our flight and got lucky enough to stay overnight in Detroit. And when we were told to get our “overnight toiletries packets,” the airline had run out. Are you kidding me, the entire airline doesn’t have four bags of toothbrushes and toothpaste anywhere?
And wait for the best part — we were given food vouchers for dinner (three instead of four) that expired at 11 p.m. What time do you think we were served the food that we ordered at 9:30 p.m?
The airlines don’t care. Why should they? There’s only two or three major airlines left. I’m hanging up my traveling hat this summer. I just can’t deal.
Do you experience travel nightmares? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.